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Ridin' High

Jerry Jeff Walker

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Album Review

The mid- to late '70s were good to Jerry Jeff Walker. He recorded a string of absolutely endearing classics of the outlaw singer/songwriter genre of country music: Viva Terlingua, Walker's Collectibles, Jerry Jeff Walker, It's a Good Night for Singin', the live A Man Must Carry On, and this one, Ridin' High from 1975. Most Walker fans will argue like hell about which is best, but they are interchangeably great and stand the test of time in the same way Guy Clark's and Billy Joe Shaver's albums do. In any case, Ridin' High is pure Texas country drunk & roll with some Nash Vegas players added to the Lost Gonzo Band for some truly Cosmic Cowboy yammering. The material here is top-notch: Willie Nelson's "Pick Up the Tempo," Bob Livingston's "Public Domain," and Guy Clark's "Like a Coat from the Cold" — and they're the first three tracks on the album! Walker has a way of delivering drunken anthems and tender ballads in his deep bass voice that brings you into the song so far you feel as if he's singing it just for you and your friends. He does this consistently on this album, backed by a star cast of players including not only the Gonzos but also Johnny Gimble, David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, and others. And the gorgeous horn touches added by Michael Brovsky are stunning. Two of Walker's own best songs are here, "I Love You," written for his then new wife Susan, and the rowdy man's good-time anthem "Pissin' in the Wind." The album is rounded out by Jesse Winchester's "Mississippi You're on My Mind," Mike Burton's oft-covered nugget "Night Rider's Lament," and a few others. The album feels like a solid stream of hippie cowboy music fed by cold Lone Star, lots of pot, and the occasional line. To listen closely is to miss the point. This is an album to be experienced with the senses, entering into the free flow of Walker's good-time world even for the 40 minutes it takes to listen to the album. But that's far better than nothin', ain't it?


Born: March 16, 1942 in Oneonta, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jerry Jeff Walker is strongly associated with the progressive ("outlaw") country scene that centered around Austin, TX, in the 1970s and included such figures as Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver,...
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Ridin' High, Jerry Jeff Walker
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